This month we feature a book that presents the vegan message in a provocative manner.
A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls
who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!
By Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
Running Press, 2005
Written by Barnouin, a former model, and Freedman, a modeling agent, Skinny Bitch targets older teens and young women who want to lose weight and are tired of the many unsuccessful diets that bombard them. But beneath the irreverence and the salty language sprinkled throughout, is a thoughtful argument for adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle.
Be forewarned! The language with its plethora of four-letter words is designed to attract young women who may use expletives in their daily discourse, but might be off-putting to others not accustomed to those words. But the language and the attitude conveyed are actually attention getters that contribute to the appeal of the book
Give It Up, the opening chapter, quickly indicates the tone of the book. Freedman and Barnouin create a simple formula: "healthy = skinny, unhealthy = fat." Give It Up means shunning smoking; avoiding drinking beer, liquor, soda pop, and coffee; not popping over-the-counter pills; and not consuming junk food.
From there, they segue to carbs that have been so disparaged in recent years. They draw the distinction between the good carbs (complex carbohydrates) that are highly nutritious and bad carbs (refined carbohydrates) that they say "are as nutritionally beneficial as toilet paper." They extol the benefits of whole grains and fruit and tell their readers to shout from the rooftops, "YOU CAN EAT BREAD AND FRUIT!"
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are demonized in their chapter Sugar IS the Devil. Aside from having no nutritional value, sugar is usually found in foods loaded with fat, cholesterol, and calories. Artificial sweeteners are also on the no-no list, especially aspartame marketed under such brand names as Equal and NutraSweet.
"Aspartame (an ingredient commonly found in diet sodas and other sugar-free foods) has been blamed for a slew of scary maladies like arthritis, birth defects, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes," they write. Sucralose, sold as Splenda, is not spared from their wrath. They cite a number of medical problems associated with this artificial sweetener.
Both animal protein and dairy products are non-existent in the diets of skinny bitches. Animal protein is referred to as "The Dead, Rotting Decomposing Flesh Diet." They say, "You are a total moron if you think the Atkins diet will make you thin." Many health problems are the result of a diet heavy in animal protein from beef, pork, chicken, and fish.
Instead of promoting health and well being, dairy products do not do the body good. "They're harmful. They cause suffering. They're the perfect thing to eat if you want to be sick and have a diseased body."
Readers who are squeamish about hearing graphic details of how animals are raised and slaughtered in the factory farm system may want to avoid the chapter You Are What You Eat. Shocking graphic descriptions detail the horrific practices of pain, suffering, and torture that precede bringing animal protein to the dinner table.
So what does one do to become a skinny bitch? First of all, the authors advise, "Don't Be a Pussy." If you can't go cold turkey and give up all the bad things at once, focus on one vice at a time. They ask that you devote a week to "getting this vice item out of your diet, your body, your kitchen, and your mind." Then move on to other vices. They present a glossary of vitamins and minerals the skinny bitch will need in her diet program.
Let's Eat provides in detail a Breakfast Food List; a Lunch Food List; a Dinner Food List; Acceptable Junk Food, Snacks and Desserts; and Condiments, Baking Supplies, and Miscellaneous. Daily menu lists for an entire month cover suggestions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also included are two other glossaries: Bad or Potentially Bad Ingredients and Scary-Sounding But Actually Harmless Ingredients.
Freedman and Barnouin conclude Skinny Bitch by confessing that they conceived the title "to get attention and sell books." They felt this was the best way to bring their message to a large audience. "But we are not bitches, and we have no desire to promote bitchiness," they write. In fact, they promote the opposite and encourage their readers to feel good about themselves after shedding the pounds. They also feel that smiling a lot and being kind to others will encourage people, especially men, to become attracted to you.
Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin are to be commended for their unique approach in bringing the vegan message to young women. Although the language may be a problem for some, their sprightly writing with its conversational tone makes the material they cover more readily accessible. The book is the result of extensive research with over 200 footnotes to sources of their information. For example, when the authors say people are chemically addicted to cheese, they cite references to support the statement. One shortcoming of the book is the absence of an index.
After reading the book, we heartily agree with the authors' admonition: "So every time you put crap in your body, you are crap."
Reviewed June 2006